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There are “road blocks” that every business has to navigate past if it is to succeed. We all think we know what they are – the right deal with suppliers, cash flow, the right team and so on. Very few of us know what all the blocks are, and almost nobody knows that the roadblocks arrive in the same sequence, for every business.

Think of each as a foundation for the next stage rather than a blockage. It will only be a blockage if you ignore the stage, fail to properly prepare or try to bypass it. In all there are eight stages, and as an example you won’t be very successful ramping up your sales (Step two) if you haven’t first proved that your concept works. To illustrate that – imagine telling people “I can’t show you any working examples, but I’d like you to buy one”. That’s a tough sale!

So you know that “Proof of Concept” is the first stage. This is the foundation upon which your business is built. During this stage you do whatever you need to do to get your concept into the hands of a customer. You build a prototype and demonstrate it, perhaps revising and improving the design over a number of cycles. Maybe you build the first production-ready units as well.

If you deliver a service then you need someone to tell others how great the experience was – not only how well you performed your duties or the success they had implementing your advice but the ease with which the transaction was completed.

It may be that you almost give away the first one. If you have a product then maybe you lend it for a short period instead of giving it away forever. A service can be provided for a cycle or two, in the understanding that if value is delivered then the arrangement will move to more commercial terms.

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You might also sell the first one at a discount, just to get it “out there”. Why?

When you move to Stage Two and you ramp up your sales efforts you need something for prospective clients to hold on to. You need some facts and figures, a video maybe, some testimonials and any combination of those or a lot more. You need something that will be perceived as reducing the risk for your “almost customer”, and in short that’s proof that your idea works.

Many of us start a business doing the same things as we did for someone else – “I can do it better than him”, “If it was my own business I’d keep ALL the money for me” are thoughts that many would recognise.

Even if you have been doing the same thing you still need to prove the concept when it is your own business. You no longer have the same infrastructure you used to have – maybe you no longer have an assistant, or maybe you don’t have all the machinery and equipment your old boss has, and maybe it is as simple as your guarantee can’t hold the same power (I know some people hired a particular global consultancy¬†because “You’re big enough to sue if anything goes wrong”).

Your new business is different to where you used to work, so you need to first prove the concept. The next post will discuss your marketing from a new perspective.

The good news is that you have been doing this for almost all of your working life. To find out more about what is meant – read The E-Myth by Gerber.

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